Published: 2021-09-30

Estimation of the current structural reliability level of existing railway bridges and viaducts

Anna M. Rakoczy , Aleksandra Jivan-Coteti


The problem with the degradation process of railway bridges is becoming a significant issue in almost all European countries. Forecasting the fitness for service of railway engineering structures, designed according to the load models applicable at the time of their design, and currently used in new operating conditions of increased axle load (up to 25 tons per axle) and speed of freight trains (up to 120 km / h), is crucial when making management decisions. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop an algorithm that determines the reliability level of the structural capacity of existing (aging) railway bridges and viaducts under current and future operating conditions. The current procedures for assessing railway bridges and viaducts for their continued operation do not account for the variability of applied loads and parameters of the resistance of the structure. Simplified calculations and conservative assumptions often lead to an incorrect assessment that indicates older structures ceased to be functional decades ago. This article presents a probabilistic method used for the evaluation of the existing railway bridges and viaducts in terms of their continued safe operation. The approach determines the probability of a failure (safety level) and the risk of the consequences associated with the failure.


operational loads, probabilistic method, railway bridges, reliability index, rolling stock loads.

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Rakoczy, A. M., & Jivan-Coteti, A. (2021). Estimation of the current structural reliability level of existing railway bridges and viaducts. Roads and Bridges - Drogi I Mosty, 20(3), 289–309.

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